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What Would Be Under The Christmas Tree In The 1930’s?

A bag of rubbish or a tricycle, it’s not just the kids of today that wonder – what will Santa bring? UnderTheChristmasTree takes a look into the 1930s vintage gifts from Santa.

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house.
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
But what would the 1930’s children find hanging there?’

Just as today, the children of the thirties awoke on Christmas morning excited to see if Santa had visited and more importantly what he’d left. Many fingers were crossed as they rushed downstairs to the living room in the hope that a bag of rubbish wasn’t waiting for them, instead they could be greeted by an array of toys that kids of today would love.

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Carefully wrapped and placed under the tree they might find Waddington’s new game Monopoly, toy cars, soldiers or a pretty dolly.

Hidden inside their stockings they would find a selection of chocolate bars which, as we in Britain still do, would be instantly ripped open and eaten.

With UK high street stores such as Sainsbury, WH Smith, Marks and Spencer and Woolwoths, whose UK slogan was ‘nothing over 6d’ becoming familiar features on high streets, shoppers now had a wide range of gift ideas to choose from.

For the working classes times were still hard and with no bank accounts or credit cards available, hard earned cash had to be set aside throughout the year so that they could afford to get gifts for the family, but whether they received a tricycle (a very popular gift for those who could afford it) or a copy of the Beano Annual and a football, the expectation and excitement remained the same.

We wonder if our children would be as excited as they were with so few presents today with the advent of computers and the huge amount of electronic toys which now dominate the market.

A 1930’s girl’s Christmas wish list may have included a dolly, a pram and a tea set, with the boys asking for toy soldiers, a bicycle or tricycle,toy cars and perhaps one of the new Meccano sets or a FROG, the first ever range of flying model aircraft that flies right off the ground (FROG).

After the Christmas Dinner, which from 1934 would have followed the King’s speech at 3.00pm (how many families still follow this tradition and have dinner after the Queen’s Christmas Day message?) the family would settle down together and play a board game together as they listened to the radio.

Parents were not forgotten at this special time and new bakelite radiograms became popular gifts but as they were priced between £8-5s and £17-10s most working class families would be unable to afford them.

Santa didn’t forget to leave a little special ‘something’ in mum and dad’s stockings too.  Dad might find a nice bottle of ‘White Label’ whisky hidden inside while mum would be overjoyed to receive a bottle of ‘4711’ Eau de Cologne.  Under the Christmas tree they may also find a radio for him and a Kenwood chef for her.

After an exciting day, children were bathed and made ready for bed where they would sit and catch up on their favourite characters in their new Christmas annual before dropping off to sleep with a big happy grin across their faces.

It had been a wonderful day!

What did you get most excited about at Christmas?

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